By Val Allen, Naturopath
Recent media reports have indicated concerns regarding the usefulness of statin drugs for protectingpeople with artery and/or heart problems and whether lowering cholesterol levels actually protect the heart. Medical journals reporting studies focussing on statin drugs, their effectiveness and side effects at a world level seem to have been largely ignored or repudiated by our Australian medical doctors.
This is alarming, especially when we know that statin drugs are prescribed more regularly than any other pharmaceutical drug in Australia. Dr Okuyama’s findings from Nagoya University, Japan were that statins accelerate hardening of the arteries, can cause or worsen heart failure, and builds calcium deposits in arteries.
The U.S. Journal of Internal Medicine confirms a link between statin users and type 2 diabetes. The British Medical Journal 2015 found that statins increase life expectancy by three days for people who did not have a diagnosis of existing heart disease. Many people taking statin drugs report symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, muscle pain and skeletal weakness.
The sensible use of statins is for those people who have experienced a heart attack or have been diagnosed with heart disease. In my opinion, the best approach to cholesterol control and heart and artery strength is to look at the big picture of the whole body.
Many people have noticeably reduced blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar by addressing their diet, lifestyle and exercise regimes. A reduction of 5 – 8 kgs of body fat loss frequently changes worrying health issues. Guidelines to assist managing cholesterol and strengthening cardiovascular tissues, given by a leading American Cardiologist, Dr Mark Houston in his Australian lecture last year are as follows:-
- Consume small, frequent meals including 6 serves of vegetables and 4 fruits daily. The emphasis should be on a Mediterranean diet concept including good levels of olive and fish oils, moderate protein, plenty of green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, beetroot, garlic, onion and pomegranate seeds.
- Dr Houston advocates restoring the elasticity of arteries as our best way to prevent heart attacks, strokes and dementia. The best nutritionals for this are activated forms of tumeric, slow release Vitamin C and bioflavenoids, good levels of magnesium, green tea and small amounts of dark chocolate.
Regular, moderate exercise is really important and I have seen many patients successfully reduce cholesterol levels using Chinese red rice extracts. If you are concerned about your cardiovascular health or have a history of family health problems in this area, a consultation with any of our experienced naturopaths could help you find a way to not only control cholesterol and heart health issues but also set you up for a longer, more vital life.